Frequently Asked Questions About FELA Railroad Injuries
Q: What is the most important thing to understand if you are the victim of a railroad or train accident?
A: In the U.S., there are nearly 200,000 miles of railroad track and more than 600 railroads. The tracks intersect with many road crossings, and these are protected only by “crossbuck” or “passive” signs. State railroad laws vary regarding the responsibilities of motorists as they approach a public railroad crossing. If you are a railroad accident victim, it is important that you immediately consult with an experienced railroad attorney. By doing so, you will better understand both your responsibilities and the railroad industry’s responsibility to you.
Q: I currently work for or previously worked for a railroad company and was injured at the job site.
A: It is crucial that you immediately contact an experienced Ohio FELA lawyer who will work with you right away to ensure your rights are protected.
Q: I have been hurt while working for the railroad industry. How do I determine who should represent my legal interests?
A: The decision to retain a particular injury attorney is important. The choice of your attorney is your decision, and you should seek a firm that has professional, real-world experience and with which you feel comfortable. You should ask questions and discuss the injury attorney’s experiences and successes in dealing with injury claims, specifically railroad injuries. The following questions are recommended:
- Will you be the lawyer personally handling my railroad injury case from start to finish, or will you assign someone else to my case?
- When was the last time you handled a railroad case?
- To help determine the outcome of my case, what are the strengths and weaknesses of my railroad injury claim?
- How can I contact you, and how often are you available?
- Do you have a balanced caseload so that you will have enough time to work with me on my case?
Q: While working for a railroad company, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident. Is the railway company responsible?
A: Complex legal issues are involved in a case such as this, including FELA and automobile insurance liability issues. Contact an Ohio FELA attorney immediately to determine your legal rights.
Q: If a train can’t stop the way that other motor vehicles can, is the motor vehicle driver at fault in a train accident?
A: It is often overlooked that the railroad has certain obligations regarding operations and track maintenance. You need a FELA lawyer to help determine fault in a railway collision. It is possible that fault lies with the railroad or train, and it is only through the legal system that we can uncover such information.
Q: What responsibilities does the railroad have to motorists?
A: Railroad systems must be operated and maintained safely and in accordance with federal guidelines that map out the responsibilities of railroads and locomotives that operate throughout the U.S. In addition, the engineer and conductor must follow specific guidelines to ensure proper operation of locomotives and trains.
Q: What types of train injuries are most common?
A: Most train accidents occur at railroad crossings and develop from train derailments; however, other railway injuries can develop from exposure to toxic chemicals or improper use of equipment.
Q: What are some of Ohio’s railroad responsibilities?
A: In Ohio, railroads are required to clear vegetation within a specific distance to avoid obstructing motorists’ line of vision. Railroad companies that disregard their responsibilities under state law and company policy can be held accountable. Railroad companies in Ohio often fail to clear vegetation at railroad crossings, even after train accidents have occurred.
Other railroad responsibilities include properly sounding the horn, maintaining the track, installing train warning devices, maintaining proper train speed and installing lights and gates at all railroad crossings.
Q: What is the NTSB?
A: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a federal agency that investigates train accidents and derailments. The NTSB does not typically investigate train accidents involving motor vehicles, and the agency can spend more than a year completing a train investigation.
Q: What responsibilities does a vehicle operator have when approaching railroad tracks?
A: State laws vary and Ohio does not have any statute requiring a motorist to always stop at all passive railroad crossings. Most problems occur when obstructive vegetation blocks railroad crossings or when trains fail to sound the horn as they approach a railway crossing. It is important that you consult with a FELA attorney to determine your responsibilities.
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